Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

The Grigorenko Situation



blog-0832314001381431927.jpg“Grigorenko’s talent level is undeniable. He is a gifted offensive center who possesses great patience with the puck and the ability to thread passes all over the ice. He is a smooth skater and has the potential to be a top scorer in the NHL. Grigorenko has been criticized for inconsistent and disinterested play in the past, though he has played through injuries.” That is the scouting report on Mikhail Grigorenko from hockeysfuture.com. The section I bolded is the part to remember as I go through this.

Tonight the 2012 1st round pick will be a healthy scratch for the 3rd time in his short career. Last year the Russian Center was given a break because he spent the majority of his time on the 4th line with Patrick Kaleta and John Scott. Surely no place for a 18 year old scoring center to grow. However a few things stood out last year that left you worried about the young Russian. First off unlike the scouting report above Grigorenko was not a smooth skater. He had a choppy stride and didn’t look like he could keep up with the NHL pace. Grigo worked with Sabres skating instructor Dawn Braid a lot last season to improve his skating. You can tell his skating has improved this year; however it’s still a work in progress.

Here is where the bolded section in the above scouting report comes into play. Perhaps the most alarming buzz coming out on Grigorenko last year was his work ethic. The rookie center was getting his desire and work ethic questions by coaches and players. In games you could tell he wouldn’t go after loose pucks with much determination and would on occasion give up on his back check. I was ready to write this off as an 18 year old kid being new to the NHL and not knowing what it takes. This year I expected someone to get into Grigorenko’s ear and he would come back working extremely hard. So far into the young 2013-14 season the same issue continues. Grigo was given the chance to play with hard working wingers Brian Flynn and the Sabres other 2012 1st round pick Zemgus Girgensons. The big Latvian forward Girgensons has already lapped Grigorenko in his development. However that’s for another day. Grigorenko didn’t seem to fit the mold with that line. You could tell on occasion his effort was poor and Grigo didn’t play with the same intensity as his wingers. This often resulted to Kevin Porter being moved up to be the center on that line and tonight results in young 2 way center Johan Larsson being given the chance, while Grigorenko sits.

So what do the Sabres do from this point? Should new captains Steve Ott and/or Thomas Vanek talk with the young Russian? Should Grigorenko just sit until he gets it? Should the Sabres let him play through it and hope it clicks? Should they try to move Grigorenko while he still has some value? Honestly, I don’t know the best course of action. I think Grigorenko could use a year in the AHL however his age prohibits that. With Corey Tropp and former 1st round pick Joel Armia a few weeks from returning from injury; roster spots will start to become tougher to earn. The only way Grigorenko gets back in the lineup now is to show he deserves in practice or injury. So far the chances of him earning it look thin based on past history. I believed that drafting fellow Russian Valeri Nichushkin in this year’s past draft would not only been a good move for Buffalo’s forward talent, but a move to help out Grigorenko as well. However the Sabres opting to go with two big defenders in Ristolainen and Zadorov ended that plan. The kid has the talent to play at this level; he just needs the drive to go out and earn it. You can teach someone how to play the game, but you can’t teach them to want to play the game.

  • Like 1

1 Comment

Recommended Comments

In other words, buyer beware when it comes to Russians. Yes all nationalities have their share of lazy hockey players. But Russia mass produces them.

Link to comment
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...